Development of Glassy Bicontinuous Cubic Liquid Crystals for Solid Proton-Conductive Materials

Journal: Advanced Materials

Published: 2016-11-01

DOI: 10.1002/adma.201604429

Affiliations: 3

Authors: 4

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Research Highlight

Future ‘solid-state’ batteries may benefit from water-infused crystal

© VICTOR HABBICK VISIONS/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY/Getty

© VICTOR HABBICK VISIONS/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY/Getty

The fact that protons can hop quickly through a network of water-infused, glassy liquid crystals could open up new possibilities for more durable and safer batteries.

A team including researchers from the Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology have developed a solid material that transfers positively charged protons rapidly through a thin web of water molecules. First, they built a three-dimensional structure by exposing zwitterions, electrically neutral molecules with both positively and negatively charged parts, to acid. This created ionic pairs between the zwitterions and acid, driving them to self-align like liquid crystals into a cubic structure, which was then cooled to a solid, or ‘glassy’, state. Dispersing water molecules through this scaffold-like material created a continuous web of hydrogen bonds through which protons could hop freely. The authors observed that the addition of water caused a six-fold increase in proton conductivity.

Improving electrolytes is one of the key barriers to affordable and longer-lived batteries. This approach could open up a new avenue for designing high-performance solid electrolytes, the authors suggest.

Supported content

  1. Advanced Materials 109,111102 (2016). doi: 10.1002/adma.201604429
Institutions FC
Department of Biotechnology and Life Science, TUAT, Japan 0.75
Department of Chemistry and Biotechnology, UTokyo, Japan 0.25
Precursory Research for Embryonic Science and Technology (PRESTO), JST, Japan 0

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